Does ITIL R3 really represent the entire IT shop?

by

ITIL is everywhere. Most of my larger clients have implemented it or are implementing it to some extent in their organizations. It has made it out of the operations world and is becoming a strategic topic. So far, most of it is talk at the high level and some decent quality and efficiency improvements at the detailed process level, but not much to connect the two.

Before I go forward, I must confess once again that I am not an ITIL expert. I have attended a couple of sessions, read the workbooks, talked to experts, but I’ve not been through the training and can’t go too much further than describing the benefits and elaborating a bit on how they define their core process areas.

My history with ITIL began about ten years ago, when I was doing some organizational strategy and process improvement work for a large IT organization trying to implement both ITIL and CMM. At the time, with the focus of these two frameworks, it made sense to focus on CMM within application development, ITIL within operations, and resolve the differences in the overlapping areas like release management and change management. Since then, ITIL has come a long way, and their latest version, R3, really attempts to represent all of IT in a services-centric rather than operations-centric view.

I was recently working with an IT organization, doing some strategic work around their future state organization, internal processes and supporting tools. We needed a picture to describe their delivery model, the activities that they do as an organization to deliver value to their internal customers. We needed this picture to better clarify organizational roles and responsibilities as well as clarify the scope of several process improvement initiatives underway. I worked with the executive team to build a picture that described their core activities of strategic planning, project/ enhancement delivery and operations, as well as the various supporting activities like resource management, vendor management, account management and financial management. This picture was very useful to us as we worked through roles and responsibilities. It had served its primary purpose.

And then it was time to communicate many of the decisions we’ve made to the organization. For a lot of reasons, it would have made sense for this organization to use the ITIL model for this purpose. They are implementing a service catalog to more accurately and transparently allocate costs to their business units, and using ITIL best practices to do so. They are organizing themselves around how they deliver services, and defining accountability within their organization by service. Furthermore, some of the products and services they sell are built on ITIL principles, so they should be big proponents of the methodology. If there were ever a situation to use ITIL’s overall model, this was it.

And so we tried to do it, and I threw myself into it thinking if there were ever a time to use ITIL’s model to describe the strategy, this was it. I spent some time working with their ITIL experts and talking to some of my own to map the activities we wanted to represent into the R3 model. It was doable, but many of the activities either spanned multiple areas or didn’t logically fit in any areas. A few examples: Vendor Management spanned multiple areas. Project Management didn’t fit anywhere. The whole SDLC, for new projects and enhancements, wasn’t very obviously represented. Account management did not fit. When it came down to it, while we were able to force fit all the activities into ITIL, it was through such an operational lens that it would not have been a useful communication tool for the organization.

So here I am, back where I started. I do think ITIL has come a long way and I am a really big believer in IT organizations transitioning to service based thinking. But practically speaking, the model isn’t yet a useful strategic tool, at least not for the purposes I described above. I’m sure this will spur some thoughts from my ITIL friends out there… let me know what you think! I’m particularly curious for perspective on how IT organizations are transforming from traditional thinking into more services based thinking and what that looks like in practice.

READ MORE

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the...

read more
How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable rewrote their statement of corporate purpose. I followed this with significant interest being that I have never forgotten the debates about corporate purpose in business school almost two decades ago. We were taught that the...

read more
Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

I love working with companies who really want to make a difference, beyond just making money for their shareholders. I mean, making money is fun and all, but it is even more rewarding to join in on a just cause. Plus, as this HBR article explains, companies who have...

read more